Dear TU Colleagues,
The phrase “the academic side of the house” has always been perplexing to me because it assumes a split in how we think about our work. Our house is at its foundation an academic one, with each of us working in some way to advance TU’s mission. I pledge my energy and the weight of the Provost’s office to ensure that the house we know as TU maintains the design that we collectively desire.
During the invigorating whirlwind of the past month since President Clancy announced my appointment, I have visited with many of you and heard your thoughts about TU’s trajectory. I have enjoyed learning from you, and your reflections have informed my vision of the Provost’s office. On my first official day in the role, I want to thank each of you for your commitment to TU and for your work on behalf of our students.
The work of the Provost’s office this summer will focus on addressing feedback from our Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaccreditation review earlier this spring. Along with confirming several strengths, HLC reviewers advised us to look more closely at how we assess the effectiveness of our work and how we use assessment to drive continuous improvement. I want to thank the faculty and the Office of Assessment for organizing our Continuous Improvement Day on May 9, a new, semi-annual “tradition” on the day following final grades submission. This day is just one of many processes we will need to put in place in order to better systematize the way that we, as teachers, as scholars and researchers, as members of departments and teams, and as an institution, identify and measure our strengths and weaknesses and develop plans to amplify the former and improve the latter. We will collectively need to engage in intensive work in the near term, but it will assuredly make TU an even better institution – more effective, more self-aware, and better equipped to change with the times. We will be filing our response to the HLC report in mid-June and will attend a hearing in mid-July.
In addition to our HLC work, we will continue to implement TU’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, which was introduced last fall. Along with that plan, TU articulated the TU Commitment – a vision in which every TU student feels Accepted, Engaged, Empowered and set upon a path of Self Discovery. There is tremendous potential for us to further develop our campus culture around these ideals. That work will involve every single unit, team and individual on campus. I look forward to working with you on these important priorities.
President Clancy intentionally elevated the provost position to the executive vice president level, adding areas of responsibility over operations and finances related to the academic mission, implementation of the academic components of the strategic plan, and continuous improvement in student retention and four-year graduation rates. Accordingly, I have made some key team changes to align with these additional responsibilities. Sensitive to the resource pressures that we all are experiencing, I put this team together by realigning existing positions to better fulfill the charge of this office and address our current priorities.
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Richard Redner will serve as Senior Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, assuming most of the responsibilities that previously resided in the Senior Vice Provost’s office. The HLC report clearly asks us to better incorporate data into our decision making, and our Strategic Plan prioritizes student success. Thus, I have asked John Bury to move his Office of Institutional Research into the Provost’s office and serve as Senior Vice Provost for Operations and Student Success. Mindi Fuser, currently a Senior Accountant in the Comptroller’s office, will work with John and the collegiate budget officers as Director of Academic Budgets and Fiscal Affairs. Wendy Buss, Assistant to the Dean at the College of Law, will serve as Senior Associate to the Provost and will provide critical support to our ongoing accreditation efforts. I am grateful to Lauren Wagner, Administrative Associate, and Patt Joyce, Assistant to the Office of the Provost, for agreeing to remain in the Provost’s office, providing important continuity and knowledge. I am grateful to each of these colleagues for joining the Provost’s team, and I am confident each will do an outstanding job.
In closing, I want to thank President Clancy for entrusting me with the role of Provost – a responsibility that will receive my very best effort. Many thanks, also, to Dean Kalpana Misra and the other members of the selection committee for their vote of confidence and for their many hours of work throughout the selection process. Finally, I want to thank my predecessor, Dr. Roger Blais, for his years of distinguished service. TU has made important gains thanks to his leadership, and I am grateful to begin building on the strong foundation he has left.
This is the first of periodic updates from me on what is happening in the Provost’s office and in all corners of our university. In the meantime, I am working with Patt to block out regular weekly office hours, and I hope you will feel free to drop by to chat. The parade of 850 graduates on Saturday – with broad smiles, confident struts, and colorful cords – is a potent reminder that our work is that of transforming lives and opening opportunities. Thank you.
Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs